Are We Losing Our Humanity? Piecing together stories beyond the slogans and propaganada
Through the organization Standing Together, Ariel Bernstein memorializes her friend in Gaza, Kahlil Abu Yahia. They met over Zoom during an event called Solidarity of Nations where she spoke of her experience being a combatant in Gaza and Kahlil was a peace activist. “These days when someone dies, you have to declare what side of the wall they belong to before you’re granted permission to be sad,” she writes. Khalil had dreams of attending a university in England where he had been accepted. “When he spoke of freedom, his eyes lit up with a hypnotizing sparkle”. He was killed by an air strike in the south of Gaza on October 10th in an area where he was supposed to be safe.
I’m not writing this piece to make an ‘All Lives Matter’ plea. I am not writing this piece because I have optimism for world peace or centrist views. I don’t have the grand longterm solutions for Palestine and Israel, but I do fear that we are losing both complexity and humanity in our politics and political movements. I fear that we fuel the war machine when we flatten and erase eachother’s stories. This piece shares some of the rare sources I have found this month, to counter the overwhelming dehumanization of Palestinians and Israelis swarming the internet and media and why I believe it is critical to speak of lives with nuance and detail as much as we possibly can.
Our first and primary identity, the core of who we are, is human. Writer Gregg Mosson wrote to me in an email this week, a simple haiku:
Whirled from pain to pause,
fear then love, the show of me
unfurls. Where’s the core?
I love the way true writers smudge the lines of two-dimensional boxes with characters that curve, bend, cross, and dot — the letters defy edges. Jewish writer, Naomi Wolfe, wrote in stunning detail in her piece Grief Enough for All, trips to Israel where at first she witnessed her family’s warm interactions with Palestinians, which following violent events, led to subsequent visits where generations of children seemed to become more siloed. She noticed in their art abstract hopes for peace and fears of the “other side” made of murderous monsters, notions that seemed to be instilled by adults. She…